OCEAN CITY – For the past eight years, Doug Buxbaum, has been owner and operator of Buxy’s Salty Dog Saloon, providing good service, great food, a friendly atmosphere and cold beers to visitors and locals alike.
Buxbaum, known to most as Buxy, moved to Ocean City in the mid-80’s after college.
“I remember telling my father ‘just one more summer’,” Buxbaum said.
Buxbaum explained that like many others, he came to Ocean City with the intent of taking a little more time before entering “the real world,” but found himself falling in love with the “endless summer” that Ocean City provides.
“Its just so easy to fall in love with Ocean City,” he said. Buxbaum decided to extend his stay, spending summers bartending in Ocean City and winters in Florida. “I had the best of both worlds,” Buxbaum said.
Over the years, Buxbaum bartended at The Purple Moose, Shenanigans, Bull on the Beach, Brass Balls, and MR Ducks. Buxbaum noted that he wouldn’t be where he is today without the help and advice of so many local business owners. “I definitely owe a lot of thanks to the whole Shockley family (Shenanigans owners),” he said.
After a while, the nomadic lifestyle began to wear on Buxbaum, and he began actively searching for bars for sale in the Pittsburgh and Ocean City areas. He stumbled upon The Salty Dog on 28th Street and knew he had found his match.
“I was at the right place at the right time,” he said.
Buxbaum purchased the saloon, which was slightly run down, and made the decision to revamp the bar and push food as well. “I knew I wanted good customer service, a friendly atmosphere and a good product,” Buxbaum said, explaining that he took ideas and elements from each place he had worked to create his dream bar/restaurant. Buxbaum added that the bar could have never been realized without the help of his parents and many locals who supported him.
To pay homage to his old stomping grounds, Buxbaum decided to give the place a western Pennsylvania/Pittsburgh theme.
“Thirty percent of the tourists in Ocean City are from there and they are great, very loyal people,” Buxbaum said.
As for the name, Buxbaum made the choice to stick with the Salty Dog.
“We mulled over a new name but kept coming back to the Salty Dog,” Buxbaum said.
To add something new to the name and set is aside as a new place, he decided to add his own name, resulting in Buxy’s Salty Dog Saloon.
The number of employees ranges from 50 in the summer time to 16 to 20 in the winter months.
“Everyone makes it a success,” Buxbaum said, mentioning Amanda Fulton, Matt Nichlas, Mike Goodbrod, and Matt Wesor as a few of the key players in his business.
Food was one element that Buxbaum focused on as he prepared to open Buxy’s. The old Salty Dog didn’t serve food, but it was a factor that Buxbaum felt was a necessary element. “We are a saloon, but we wanted our food to be a cut above,” he said.
Apparel was also factored in, with the “Salty Dog” becoming a great theme for T-shirts.
“T-shirts have really exceeded out expectations,” Buxbaum said.
Besides being known for a great saloon, Buxy’s Salty Dog is also known as a popular sports bar. With 30 TVs and six satellites, sports ranging from baseball to football can be viewed almost anytime. Although they have become known as a “Steelers bar,” Buxbaum maintains that their Steelers pride is all in good fun. “We like to say we are football friendly and Pittsburgh proud,” Buxy said.
Along the way, Buxbaum has changed as well, settling into his role as a family man and an active member of the community. Buxbaum met his wife Annie along the way and now has three children ages six, four and one.
“I’ve had to learn to balance work and family, but family always comes first,” he said.
Buxbaum attributed the success of both work and family to his wife, who also does most of the work with the T-shirts and apparel.
For Buxbaum, the most rewarding part of owning his own business has been the friends he meets each year and the satisfied customers that walk out the door. “It’s very rewarding to have someone leave here with a smile on their face or hear someone say, ‘that was the best cheesesteak I’ve ever had’,” Buxbaum said.
It hasn’t all been easy though Buxbaum said, noting lack of time as the least enjoyable part of his job. But despite the time restraints, he has loved every minute of it. “I wouldn’t trade anything for the ride we’ve had. I hope it continues for another 20 years,” Buxbaum said.